Do You Really Have “Plenty of Time Later” to Nurture Your Marriage?

My husband and I were shopping at Kohl’s recently, where he insisted on buying me a ridiculously priced coffee maker.

I batted my eyes and received my coffee maker with grace and humble appreciation. (Side note: Tried the contraption and it totally rocks. So glad I didn’t rob my husband — or myself — of the joy of generosity).

Anyway, as we stood in line to buy the new addition to our family, enjoying our playful afternoon shopping, I casually leaned up and kissed him.

Just a kiss.

Nothing extraordinary, even to us really.

But right then, an older woman in front of us glanced our way and sweetly said, “Kiss any chance you get. My husband just passed away. You don’t know now how you’ll miss those kisses.”

This moment, of course, comes on the heels of my own reflection in recent weeks that nurturing my marriage is something I can’t take for granted. Or put off.

Don’t get me wrong — as far as married couples go, my husband and I have what I would consider a decent connection.  We love each other.  We love making love. And even in our most frustrating moments, we each have a deep sense of “Hey, I’m on your side. No matter what, I’m on your side.”

But life gets full, you know?  With the ring of the morning alarm, a relentless list of details lines up, vying for our attention, time and energy.

My husband and I don’t always have the same agenda — our “to do” lists don’t always complement each other; and some days even compete with each other.

Life isn’t just “messy,” it’s downright sticky and confusing and exhausting and bewildering.

Car batteries go dead at the least convenient time.  Dogs — and kids — throw up, rarely on the easy-to-clean kitchen floor, but nearly always on the 600-count Egyptian cotton sheets.  Bank accounts run low.

And how is it that I can’t manage to keep enough milk in the fridge — but still can manage to buy Greek yogurt that expires long before I get around to eating it?

And still, in the midst of all life’s craziness, my husband and I have to figure out a way to not just have a marriage — but to have a marriage worth having.

Can you relate?

Paul Byerly touches on this extraordinarily well in his recent post “Not Divorcing is Not Enough.” He throws down the gauntlet and asks, “Being married 25 years is not impressive if the couple has been angry and/or miserable most of that time. I can honour them for sticking it out, but how much better to have worked through things so they got to a good marriage?”

Whether your marriage sucks right now or it is just existing or if you are comfortably happy with settling for a “just okay” relationship, ask yourself if you really have plenty of time to nurture your marriage?

I realize that “it takes two” and that sometimes one person in a marriage wants to nurture it — and the other person is either oblivious or downright resistant.

A lot of marriages, though, could improve — with a little effort by even one of the people in it.

So, be courageous and do what you can.

Hold hands.

Give a compliment.

Initiate sex when it’s least expected.

Linger longer in each other’s arms.

Do what you can to become better friends.

Extend grace.

Offer a backrub.

Suggest a new activity.

Spend an afternoon together.

Look into each other’s eyes.

Is all this easy?  Well, no.  But the rewards cannot be measured.

One day, you may even find yourself in store, stealing a kiss that seems like no big deal — when really, it’s the only deal that matters.

Kiss every chance you get.

Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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10 thoughts on “Do You Really Have “Plenty of Time Later” to Nurture Your Marriage?

  1. Anonymous Guy says:

    Good for you, Julie and the other wives who get it.

    If I kiss my wife in public she resists or gets mad at me. If she kissed me in public I might have a heart-attack. I am just weary and tired and burnt out on trying to improve our marriage after a long try. my wife doesn’t respond (at least not in a good way) and things are no better than in the past. She says our marriage comes first (after God ofcourse) but I guess I don’t see how. She says we’re not in the Romantic Years anymore and that I have unrealistic expecattions. These days I feel like the night-watchman in my house looking after my three kids and their mom. On the outside we look like a nice happy Christian family but on the inside I am just so tired and sad. I want a better marriage and I pray for this all the time. Not to brag, but that list of suggestions above is what I’ve been doing for years. Now I just ask myself why I bother? I’m just waiting for her to tell me that we’re such good friends that she’d hate for touch and intimacy to mess it up (though we are intimate about once every 6 weeks or so). I know this all sounds like another serving of self-pity but when I read this and so many other Christian blogs I am just torn up that my marriage is forever stuck right here. Believe me, I’ve tried to sit down and talk with her about this and tell her how I feel (and listen to her above all) but its almost always a conversation cut short by her defensiveness or her resentment toward me making her feel guilty. She says we don’t need counseling despite my suggesting it, so, I guess this is what it is for me. I guess I need prayers to help me accept that.

    I hope the other wives will take your words and their men to heart.

  2. Gregory Donner says:

    Forgive me for being a bit OT, but in response to Anonymous Guy’s reply, I’m sure I’m not the only person sitting here wondering, “How on earth does sexual refusal happen in a marriage? Did the refusing spouse simply stop pretending to enjoy sex at some point? Was discussion about sex somehow neglected before marriage so that the refusing spouse never had to answer for their attitude?”

    Frankly, from a single person’s standpoint, this frightening reality destroys any motivation to even pursue marriage. Sex isn’t everything, but it’s certainly critical enough that I would never consider marriage knowing my fiance was a refuser waiting to happen.

  3. Matthew says:

    There’s always plenty of time later. The problem is that later never becomes now.

    I want to applaud not only the suggestions that you gave at the end of the post, but also the opening story. Blessing your spouse with gifts is important. The dollar amount of the gift isn’t important, the thought is. Buy that chocolate or flowers that your wife likes, just because you saw them and thought of her. Pick up that book by his favorite author just to surprise him. If they mention a certain item very time you see it in the store, go ahead an pick it up as a surprise.

    If those things aren’t possible, for whatever reason, gifts can be hand-made as well. That love note that you write and leave for them to find, the picture of yourself that you email them, etc.

    In every way, be a blessing to your spouse!

  4. 365 Acts of Love says:

    It’s so easy to take your spouse for granted, just like it’s easy to sit on the couch rather than exercise or clean or spend time with your kids. Doing things well, cultivating character, etc. takes time and work. I took my wife for granted for the first several years of our marriage, but now I’m trying to change that (see my blog). Thanks for the great article and congratulations on the nomination.

  5. The Groom says:

    First, to Gregory I want to encourage you to pursue marriage with a goal toward holiness and wholeness. As you meet the woman you would like to develop a relationship with, and if marriage becomes a present reality for you both, then you can begin to more openly express your concerns about this area and ask each other questions about your perspectives and plans. Of course caution is in order, but my point is that you don’t have to go into this blindly. Premarital counseling will also help. Marriage isn’t easy and there are seasons of extreme difficulty, but there is so much joy to be gained that it is well worth the investment. Don’t be scared out of it because of the prospect of a refusing wife.

    To the article, let me say that I am often woefully short on my expression of intimacy. I am easily distracted, very busy and married to a bride who is also very busy and has chronic pain. So intimacy is a struggle for both of us. Not desire, but practice. I need to be more at the ready and more expressive. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Mommy Monday says:

    This article is RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I know how hard and busy life can get, and how making an effort towards your marriage, well the thought of it just makes me more tired. But I also know that when my marriage sucks, everything sucks. And when it is going well, everything is going to be okay. That being said, making the effort is a no-brainer.

    I think the hard thing for women is getting physically intimate when they are emotionally dry. Generally, men have a physical need for sex. Women have needs for emotional intimacy, that when aren’t met, we shut down.

    But I have found in my marriage, that physical intimacy communicates crazy love to my husband. And when we are physically intimate, it usually opens the door for that emotional intimacy that I crave.

    So if we are truly trying to be selfless in our marriage, putting the other persons needs above our own, we will meet their needs. I think that wives need to be scandalous for their husbands. We need to satisfy them, to show them we love them. How often do we as Christians hear about sex and porn addictions in the church? Well, can’t us wives help our hubbies out, and work to prevent all that? Can’t we protect them in a sense, by satisfying them? If we are keeping our husbands satisfied, having fun in marriage with sex, then they are a lot less likely to get bored and look elsewhere.

  7. Kentucky Colonel says:

    Great post Julie!

    I’m a regular on a marriage board, I get a lot of ideas there for my posts, and one of the things I’ve noticed are spouses that show up and proclaim that as soon as the kids graduate from High School they are getting out of the marriage.

    While there are no hard and fast rules, typically if it is a husband saying this their wife has nurtured her children at the expense of her husband and her marriage. It’s actually not a very good example for her children.

    Again, not a hard and fast rule but when it’s a wife that says she’s out once the kids are out of High School it’s typically because the husband has nurtured his career at the expense of his wife, family and marriage. Sadly another poor example for the children.

    In either case the time to nurture the marriage has all but passed. As the lady in line with you at Kohl’s suggested, you don’t know when you won’t have your spouse to nurture anymore, or when it will be too late…

    We all should do something every day to nurture our marriages. Today may not be our last opportunity but you are not promised tomorrow.

    Blessings!

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